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Josh Gallegos

Buying a new camera

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Hello everyone, I'm new on the board but I have been here before many years ago. I have decided to stick with my passion until I die, and let me tell you my passion has been filled with sorrow and frustration, it is something inside me that won't go away, something that won't die. So maybe it's a calling to do something, maybe it's my destiny. I just can't sit around and die with the doubt and regret of not listening to this calling.  I'm moving to Austin TX in 2021 to begin my journey and I'm looking for recommendations. I have been away from cinematography boards for a while, though I still have notes and key discussions archived in various doc files. I'm going to make no budget short films (1-5 mins long) and I want to go back to the Dogme 95 approach from Von Trier, I don't want movies to be perfect and color corrected, I want them to be intuitive, I want to capture something real, of course I'm going to break some of those rules, I just think the form is interesting and it's perfect for filmmakers who practically have very little resources to work with. I'm not going to be delusional and think that something will become of my short films, but I have the undeniable feeling to express myself, something inside me keeps telling me to make films, even though I've tried to move on I just can't stop thinking about it. I'm 33 years old now (I know), but if someone like Ridley Scott directed his first feature at 40, what's my excuse. Eventually I want to be able to shoot a gospel feature film, but that's just a dream. I will invest approximately $1,000 for a camera. I know most of these new cameras shoot 4k, but I will most likely stick to 1080p as the file sizes would be too large. I have a bit of experience shooting and editing, I did two shorts some years ago. I was also thinking of taking stills, drive around Texas and explore when I'm feeling down. I keep remembering Alice in the Cities, how Philip Winter traveled around the country taking pictures of things he will never see again, strangers who are as mysterious as the stars themselves. I don't want to think about 'success' or the pressure of achieving it, trust me, it's no fun, it diminishes you, makes you feel hopeless. I may never get to where I thought I would be in life, nevertheless, why should I keep denying this yearning to create something. I know most Dogme films were shot on a camcorder, but I want something with interchangeable lenses, I might look into Sony, but I haven't made up my mind yet. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Good to be back. I may not post in a while as I'm only 2 classes away from attaining my Associate of Arts degree, but I'll keep up and read from all you knowledgeable and passionate people. Be blessed. 

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I really like the Canon C100! Well, the EVF is bad but I like everything else about it. Small, nice color, sharp 1080p image, small file sizes, built in NDs. There is a lot to like about that camera. I use a slight diffusion filter on it like digital diffusion fx or a light classic soft.

Edited by M Joel W

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Thanks. I was thinking of getting a Canon camcorder and a Sony. I found this great camera in the $200 dollar range! https://www.usa.canon.com/internet/portal/us/home/products/details/camcorders/consumer/vixia/vixia-hf-r800

Saw a few short films made on youtube, though the audio on it might be pretty bad. But I'm definitely adding that something I might get. Thanks for the suggestion but it seems the Canon C100 is pretty expensive. I was looking at cheaper options, something small and won't draw attention, this way I can film in any location without having people ask me for permits. 

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Canon Vixia only has a 1" sensor in it, so unless deep focus photography is going to be a signature style, I'd look into cameras with larger sensors.

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9 hours ago, David Mullen ASC said:

Canon Vixia only has a 1" sensor in it, so unless deep focus photography is going to be a signature style, I'd look into cameras with larger sensors.

Yes, thank you, sir. The Sony alpha a7 ii is looking like the camera to get, it’s right in my price range. I already wrote three short films last night, I’m going to make up for lost time. 

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Welcome back, Josh. Glad you still have your passion for filmmaking. I think the Sony mirrorless cameras like A7 series are what you are looking for.  Best of luck to you on your journey!

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Thanks Satsuki. Although I’ve been away from cinematography boards I’ve been writing a lot and even had one of my scripts read by a Hollywood producer, it was rejected, but I think my pathway is most likely not in the mainstream, maybe I was meant to make my own material. For instance I thought of a small short film last night , I titled it (Anxiety) and it’s about a young woman sitting in a park bench, black and white and I imagined a rhythm. She’s inhaling on a cigarette, exhaling while we see her worries and frustration building, it builds into a crescendo until she has an anxiety attack. I want to orchestrate the images, cinema is in the rhythm of things. And I figure I have many small ideas like this. I won’t even need audio or a crew, I can just make small films and maybe one day raise money for a bigger idea. I just want to become adept, experiment and grow. Thus far 2020 has been an odd year, the foundations of my soul have been rattled in the madness, I felt a terrible sorrow, a deep regret over the years lost in indecision and fear. Life just has a way of humbling you, it’s been a rough year, but it’s taken me back on track to my destiny. 

Edited by Josh Gallegos

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Posted (edited)

I’m in a bit of a dilemma, it turns out the Sony a7 ii was on sale for a week and I missed the sale and it’s now $1,600 as opposed to the sale price of $1,100 with the kit lens included. I’m thinking of just going with the Canon Rebel T7, which is on sale for $549 with 2 kit lenses included. I’m just thinking how buying an entry level dslr might become an issue once I become more experienced, but then again I’m not a professional and the Canon price seems more economical. Should I just wait for the Sony a7ii to go on sale again or just go for the Canon T7, it only shoots 1080p, it doesn’t have a full frame sensor, and you can’t even attach external audio to the camera, it’s very limited. Don’t know when Sony will have a sale again and I feel like I need to start shooting in October. 

Edited by Josh Gallegos

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Most movies are shot on Super-35 film or sensor sizes, not full-frame -- if you want less depth of field, use faster lenses. If you're trying to pull focus yourself, the slightly deeper depth of field compared to full-frame may be useful anyway, it will be hard enough.

Do you need to record and finish in 4K?

The main advantage of the Sony A7S is how extremely sensitive it is in low-light, so it all depends on just how much in the dark you want to shoot.

But you need to figure out the audio situation.

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I personally like manual control cinematic cameras like the original Blackmagic Pocket. 

The great thing about the original pocket camera is because it has a Super 16mm sized imager, you can get very low-cost cinema glass. That in of itself is a huge advantage because much of the modern glass is overly crisp and it makes digital not look so good. It's also hard to get fully manual zoom lenses without blowing a lot of money and you WANT fully manual for cinema as you'll be racking focus. 

Where I agree with my comrades about S35mm imager size, if you're just going to shoot a short film for fun and want to learn the tricks of the trade, I suggest something designed for cinema specifically and not a still camera that just happens to shoot video. 

Here is a video I made in 2014 about the Pocket cinema cameras. Mind you it's a bit old.. a lot has changed, but it's still food for thought. If you chem out my channel where this is posted, you can see many other shows shot on the pocket as well. 
 

 

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Well, I guess in the end it’s how you use it that counts, what you do within the frame? Seeing as I won’t be shooting in 4K I might just go with a dslr or research other cameras in the $1200 range.

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11 hours ago, David Mullen ASC said:

Most movies are shot on Super-35 film or sensor sizes, not full-frame -- if you want less depth of field, use faster lenses. If you're trying to pull focus yourself, the slightly deeper depth of field compared to full-frame may be useful anyway, it will be hard enough.

Do you need to record and finish in 4K?

The main advantage of the Sony A7S is how extremely sensitive it is in low-light, so it all depends on just how much in the dark you want to shoot.

But you need to figure out the audio situation.

Which dslr/mirrorless camera would you recommend? I was thinking of shooting short films and maybe get work shooting weddings or events. I have very good lenses accessible from Photo Rental Source, it’s very cost effective. I know $1200 is t enough to get a professional camera like the 5D, but I know you use a Nikon stills camera. 

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I'd research "best DSLR / mirrorless for video" and then see if there is a used model or a generation earlier that it worth getting for your budget.

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That makes sense. I have decided on the Canon Rebel T7i, if I can’t do anything with that then I can’t do better on a higher end camera. 

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one of the things which needs to be taken into account is that you would want a camera which has the most versatile lens mount possible. This is because you will want to keep most of your lenses when changing camera bodies. It is prohibitively expensive to always update both everything every couple of years: the camera body, the batteries, the memory cards+readers+other media, from 3 to 12 lenses and so on. The lenses you use will cost at least the same than the camera body and sometimes if using multiple high quality lenses you can have the lens kit costing from 5 to 10 times the price of the camera body even if using regular stills lenses which are not cine versions. So I'd be very aware what type of lens mount and lens kit you choose because in 5 or 10 years you will definitely not use the same camera body anymore (it is either updated to other model or broken from usage) but you will most likely have at least some of the lenses you purchase now and it will be very annoying if you are not able to use them then because of mount restrictions.

If you want full electrical controls with autofocus and aperture etc. then it may be necessary to just purchase for the particular camera body and sell the all kit when you are updating the body. But if you will want to keep the lenses and use only manual settings then I'd advice choosing something like Nikon mount lenses with adapters instead of choosing only Canon EF mount gear. The Nikon F mount lenses are much more versatile and can be used with almost any camera body with proper adapters. Personally I have updated the camera body 5 times in the last 10 years but the Nikon F mounted lenses are still the same. Same with M42 lenses and Oct18 ones.

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I downloaded an app on my iPhone called ProShot and it unlocks great features on the iPhone, it's basically a mini-DSLR camera in an app, of course, it only has 12-megapixel camera, but I've been familiarizing myself with the settings.  I'm renting a Canon RP Mirrorless camera, because cameras like the Canon 7d Mark ii etc have outdated specs and I'm not too familiar with Sony, I've always preferred Canon, because they make a wide variety of lenses that are readily available and cheap to rent. I wouldn't necessarily buy any lenses, because I know how expensive they are, for now I've limited myself to renting. 

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10 hours ago, Josh Gallegos said:

I'm renting a Canon RP Mirrorless camera. I wouldn't necessarily buy any lenses, because I know how expensive they are, for now I've limited myself to renting. 

That is a wise approach when you are starting out. Especially if concentrating on short films which you are shooting irregularly.  When you have couple of weeks worth of shooting per year where you need a better camera you can start consider purchasing :)   If I would buy a camera at the moment it could be something like the Panasonic S5 kit with the kit lens, extra batteries and some adaptors to mount additional manual lenses. 

You can ask lights for rent too if they have something suitable for a small project. Battery powered led panels in 30w - 100w range would be ideal if you can get them for cheap :)

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I have a new idea for a short called Suicide Pact, and it's about 4 people who commit suicide during lockdown and they share their most intimate secrets before they die. I was listening to Henry Purcell's Abdelazer and the thought came to me, it would be great if I could find stock footage of suicides, I've seen quite a lot of them on the best gore website but they use their logo on all their videos, maybe I could write to them and ask for footage I can use. I would simply get local actors to film their segment on their phones and then I would edit it together and use Purcell's Abdelazer Z. 570, which is public domain, that way I don't spend any money at all, and it's a good editing exercise. Plus there's something poetic about taking your last breath, to see so many people die in a fast edit like Taken 3 would be poetry to my eyes. 

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